As one of the most popular U.S. sports leagues, the NBA has a huge fanbase, with approximately half of it making sports wagers to support their fav teams or feel the thrill of the gamble. All U.S. local and offshore sportsbooks offer many options for NBA: many betting markets, special prices, and bonuses for particular games or the whole NBA season.
It’s to tie yourself in the knots of multiple sports betting offers you see when you first sign up for a bookie. The betting lines are not rocket science, but how to read NBA odds, tell a Moneyline from NBA spreads of a point, or find the best betting site to wager on the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Atlanta Hawks?
This review will provide you with all the necessary information on NBA odds. You will learn how to read various odds formats, will get to know different betting markets, and all ins and outs of online NBA betting. As a small bonus, we will give you a hint at where you can find the best NBA odds and monitor them to always catch the best offers!
How can I read NBA odds?
The first thing you need to know is how to understand these figures you see next to the teams’ names. They can look different: some contain plus and minus signs, while the others are decimal and fractional numbers of all sorts. Let’s focus on the three most popular odds formats, typical for U.S. online sportsbooks: American, decimal, and fractional. There are more of them, say, Indoor Malay, but you won’t come across them if you wager at legal U.S. sports betting sites.
First, American odds. An NBA betting line with American odds looks like this (it is a real example of the NBA finals odds)
Boston Celtics -133
NY Knicks +112
In this example, you see the NBA Moneyline, the simplest betting option ever, where you predict who will win. However, the odds format remains the same with the other bet types, so let’s look at how it works.
You see a -133 number for the Celtics. The negative sign implies that the team is the favorite, so if you back it, you have a bigger chance to win, but what is your probable payout? Negative American odds indicate an amount you must risk to win $100. Thus, if you back Boston Celtics and wager $133, you will win $100 in case they win the game. If you wager $266, you will win $200, and so on — you can place any stake within a bookie’s limit, don’t stick to the basic $100.
Besides your winnings, you will also receive your initial stake amount, so the total payout of a $133 stake in our example will make $233.
What’s with the positive odds, then? As you may have guessed, they indicate an underdog and imply higher risk. However, a bookmaker cannot be 100% sure that the underdog loses, right? If you make the correct prediction, your payout will be much more profitable because the negative underdog odds show the amount you win if you bet $100.
Thus, you decided to support the Knicks and wagered $100 on their victory. They win, and your $100 turns into $212 — your initial $100 stake plus $112. Looks much more inspiring, right?
Decimal odds format is more typical for European, African, or Russian sportsbooks, and many find it even more straightforward. The same market we demonstrated above will look the following with decimal odds:
Boston Celtics 1,75
NY Knicks 2,12
To calculate a probable payout, you simply multiply the odds on your stake amount. Thus, when you support Boston Celtics and wager $100 on their victory, you can win $175. A $100 bet on the Knicks will bring more than $212 — you’ve already seen it in the previous example. Unlike the American odds, decimal format shows you the full amount of payout: your stake plus your winnings.
Finally, fractional odds, a classical format for British bettors.
Boston Celtics 3/4
NY Knicks 28/25
The first number in the fraction shows your net profit, and the second one is the stake amount. Thus, if you bet $4 on the Boston Celtics, you will get a net profit of $3, and your total payout will be $7. If you wager $25 on the New York Knicks, your net winnings will equal $28.
Most Popular Types of the NBA Odds
Now that you know how to read NBA odds in various formats, you are ready to see what betting options are available at various sportsbooks. We won’t consider exotic and rare bets here: let’s start with the very basic NBA betting markets. You will find odds for such bets at literally every bookmaker, and as soon as you learn how to deal with them, you will be ready to go further.
We have already mentioned the most common betting option, usually called Money Line in American sportsbooks. It is the same wager as the Match Bet, or Match Winner, and it implies a bettor must predict who will win the game. Yes, it is as straightforward as it sounds: you pick a winner, add your selection to the bet slip, indicate your stake amount, and patiently wait until the match is over.
Despite being a very simple option, the money line is not always profitable, especially when it comes to ultimate favorites and very weak underdogs.
In the NBA, underdogs have a 34% win percentage, which is not so little but still not enough to rely on betting against the crowd. However, the previous 2020-2021 season showed that home underdogs are capable of bringing profits to a bettor, so it still depends on a particular roster, statistics, and more factors you need to monitor.
If not the money line, then what can you choose?
NBA point spread odds
The second popular market that usually comes with competitive odds is the Point Spread. European bookies also call it Handicap betting, but whatever you name it, the principle is the same. In Point Spread bets, you wager on the winning margin between the teams. Traditionally, let’s start with an example (again, these are real NBA odds from one of the popular U.S. sportsbooks):
Milwaukee Bucks +4,5 -110
Brooklyn Nets -4,5 -110
We already know what -110 means: these numbers indicate the odds in the American format. Don’t be confused; the line doesn’t need to always include both positive and negative odds: in this example, the chances are equal. In other words, oddsmakers don’t regard any team as a favorite or an underdog for this bet type.
However, we see more figures: what are +4,5 and -4,5? It is the margin we mentioned before or spread points. A bookmaker suggests spread points that mean the difference between the final scores. In our example, a bookie supposes that the Nets might win by 4,5 points. A negative sign before the point spread means the Nets are the favorites, so you will deduct this 4,5 points from their final score to determine if they beat the spread.
If you back the Nets, and they win with, say, 108:106, your bet loses. To make your bet win, the Nets must not only score more points but also cover the spread. Thus, they must score at least five goals to bring you a payout.
Unlike the Money Line, the Point Spread doesn’t imply that a favorite must necessarily win to make your bet work out. You can wager on the underdog, and if they lose, but the difference between the final scores is less than 4,5, your bet will still win. Of course, it also wins if the underdog manages to beat the favorite.
Why do the points come in a decimal format? It’s easy: it prevents a bookie from making a refund in case of a tie.
NBA Total Or OVER/UNDER Odds
One of the three simplest NBA bets, NBA Totals or Over/Under, doesn’t require you to predict who will win. Instead, you must guess what the total score will be: the number of points scored by both teams.
Of course, it’s almost impossible to make an accurate prediction and say that the total score will be, say, 143 or 111. Luckily, nobody asks you to do so: instead, a bookmaker suggests a particular number, and you must decide if the score will go over or stay under this number. An example:
Utah Jazz vs. Toronto Raptors:
Over: 229.5, -110
Under: 229.5, -110
Pretty evident, if the score is, say, 120:109, the Under bet will win, and a score of 122:110 will make the Over bet work out.
How to decide what to wager on in this case? Statistics will be your best tool: it will show the typical scores of each team and how much do they tend to score when they play against each other. Of course, mainly the latest NBA betting trends for one-two previous seasons will be helpful.
Betting on NBA Futures odds
You won’t find futures in the standard match coupon with NBA point spreads, money lines, totals, and other wagers. They are special odds, published long before the season even starts, and imply that you predict the winners of the most significant league’s events or top players of the season. Futures may include wagers on the NBA Championship winner, the Most Valuable Player of the Year, the winner of the division, and more.
Of course, the odds for these markets will change throughout the season and become more accurate closer to its end.
Before you place any futures odds, it makes sense to compare them at various bookies: they don’t usually differ much, but why not look for the best option? Here is how the NBA Futures for the NBA Championship winner can look in a sportsbook:
Brooklyn Nets +250
Golden State Warriors +450
Milwaukee Bucks +700
Phoenix Suns +800
Utah Jazz +1200
Los Angeles Lakers +1200
Miami Heat +1200
Los Angeles Clippers +2500
We showed you a small part of the list; obviously, the Futures include all teams. Is it the same with the players’ odds, though?
NBA MVP odds
The MVP odds, or the odds for the Most Valuable Player, actually show the favorites of the season. Only one player can take this award, and the players are selected from the teams who advanced to the NBA playoffs or won more than fifty times during the regular season.
Basically, NBA is a league with a big focus on players, as each player’s performance means much in basketball. No wonder the players’ futures (as well as the players’ props) are very popular, so how to make the right pick?
Here is the example of the MVP odds:
Steph Curry (Golden State) +120
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn) +250
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) +900
Nikola Jokic (Denver) +1200
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia) +4000
Luka Doncic (Dallas) +5000
Chris Paul (Phoenix) +5000
DeMar DeRozan (Chicago) +6500
Paul George (L.A. Clippers) +6600
LeBron James (L.A. Lakers) +6600
As you see, all the odds are very lucrative: they come with a plus sign, which means pretty good payouts. However, note the margin between the first four players and the others: the odds become extremely attractive, so with a portion of good luck, wagering on the MVP futures might bring one a fortune. However, oddsmakers rarely lose: if, say, Jokic’s chances become higher after the next Week, his odds will fall down. Betting on the MVP must not be a reckless decision: you can select only one player, so take your time and monitor the events. Of course, you can also listen to some expert’s advice, but the outcome still remains unpredictable.
NBA Proline odds
You won’t find Proline betting at classical American sportsbooks. In fact, this betting variant is popular among Canadian bettors.
First, what is Proline? It is one of the governmental Canadian lottery games that involve real money betting. In Proline, you need to predict the outcomes for several sporting events — in our case, NBA games.
So, you start with determining your stake amount. It may vary from $2 to $100 per day. You pay this price to buy a ticket and add your picks to this ticket: from three to six events.
There are two types of Proline events: Home/Away Teams and Over/Under. The outcomes you can select have special abbreviations as follows:
V: a visiting team wins (similar to Moneyline betting)
T: an NBA game ends in a draw (similar to 3-ways Moneyline)
H: home team wins;
V+: a visiting team wins with two or more points (similar to spread betting);
H+: a visiting team wins with two or more points (similar to spread betting).
The Over/Under Proline bets have three variants:
O: you must predict if the total score will go over the number suggested by the Proline;
U: you must predict if the total score will go under the number suggested by the Proline;
#: you suggest a number yourself and predict if the score will go over or under this number.
Besides ProLine, the Canadian lottery offers Props, Point Spread, and Pools betting options.
Guide to the NBA Betting Lines
You now know about the most popular betting markets, also known as NBA Vegas odds: it’s enough to make your first bet! This review won’t touch more exquisite bet types like NBA prop bets, which might seem more fun but require superior knowledge of the game and other exotic betting options. Still, you are pretty well-armed to give NBA betting a try.
Still, there are more things you need to know before you start. Sports betting is not just about reading the odds, selecting the most probable outcome, and fixing your wager. The odds constantly change, and the lines may look different at various sportsbooks, so if you want to do things wisely, read further to know some nuances that bookmakers don’t tell you about.
What is the NBA Open Line?
The Open Line means the very first odds published for an event. Many professional and experienced bettors prefer sticking to this line: in their opinion, it best reflects the current situation and provides the most accurate and fair prices.
Who creates the open line? It depends on a particular online sportsbook. Most of them use sports data providers and just publish the odds automatically using a third-party engine.
However, prominent sportsbooks can have their own team of oddsmakers, at least for the significant events within large leagues like the NBA.
The oddsmakers monitor and analyze every event and think of the chance of various outcomes. In the USA, they must base on the official league’s date, but in fact, they consider many factors: it’s essential to not only give accurate forecasts but also adjust the figures to maintain the business profitable.
What is NBA Line Movement?
Although traditional sportsbooks offer you so-called fixed-odds betting, the odds are not actually so fixed. If we speak about pre-match odds (when you place your wagers before the game starts), bookmakers might publish them a week before an event or earlier/later, depending on various factors.
However, when the first betting wave is over, the odds might change. This is called the line movement or odds fluctuation, and it’s inevitable: a sportsbook continuously monitors bettors’ activity and adjusts the odds to keep their business profitable.
The odds might change due to some very straightforward reasons, like changes in rosters. Suppose a sportsbook published the odds, and then a player was eliminated due to some injury. A team doesn’t have the same chance to win then it did before, so the odds might become more lucrative.
However, even if everything goes just right and there are no changes in the teams, the line will move anyway. When the first NBA odds become available, most bettors choose to wager on the favorite, so the money will heavily flow to the one side of the match. It might result in pretty significant losses for a bookie and the need to pay out too much. To avoid it, bookies shift the line, e.g., change odds to make betting on the opposite outcome lucrative, too. As a result, all stakes become distributed between the two outcomes and will protect a sportsbook from big lost trades.
Don’t be afraid of the line movement: sharp bettors successfully use it to make their experience profitable. This is when so-called consensus picks can come to help: they show the most popular outcomes that the betting public tends to choose and may give a hint for the right decision.
The NBA consensus picks come as a percentage of wagers made on one or another outcome; it is compiled from several sportsbooks to show more accurate data. They look like The Favorite: 60%, The Underdog: 40%, or something like that.
In our example, the general betting public supports the favorite, which is pretty natural, as most bettors are not professionals and just go with the flow. Sharp bettors prefer to go fade the public: wait until the line moves and place a bet on a less popular outcome. Statistics say the public is more often wrong than right, so consensus picks might be a nice tool even for beginners.
Where can I find the best NBA betting odds for today?
The most obvious way to find the best NBA odds is to compare NBA lines today in various sportsbooks. Luckily, you don’t need to do it manually (although you can, of course). There are multiple platforms on the Internet that provide you with convenient tables comparing the odds for the same events at different sportsbooks.
Some sites provide you with very detailed information and allow you to compare the actual lines with the opening one. For instance, if we check the latest NBA moneyline odds and look at the upcoming matchup between Philadelphia and San Francisco, we will see the following:
Still, you must note that all of the sportsbooks in this list are offshore: if you stick to legal U.S. betting sites or apps, you might find lower odds for the same events. Still, combined with bonuses and boosted odds promotions, you can also find a deal at local U.S. giants like FanDuel, PointsBet, or BetMGM.
Besides, you can always check the NBA and NCAA basketball odds at our website: we publish the latest prices for basketball, soccer, and ice hockey events.
Now you can safely bet on NBA: you know much more than a rookie bettor! It’s not that hard to monitor odds and predict the outcomes if you are into the NBA world, and with the help of our sportsbooks reviews, latest odds, and guides, you have all chances to rock.
Still, we must warn you: gamble responsibly and remember that sports betting is fun, not something you do for a living. What is responsible gambling? It’s when you control your budget, don’t make impulsive decisions, never spend more than you can afford, and have other things in your life. Besides, if someone you know has a gambling problem, helping them is also a part of responsible betting: at least you can send them gambling problem support contacts.
How do odds work in NBA?
The odds show the probability of a particular outcome: for instance that a certain NBA team will win the match, or a particular player will become an MVP. The odds can come in various formats, but all of them show your potential payout if you win.
What are the odds for the NBA final?
The current stats show that the Brooklyn Nets are the very strong favorites, and their odds to win the finals are +250 or so at various sportsbooks. The second-best team is the Golden State Warriors, and the third place goes to the Milwaukee Bucks, with the odds +700.
What are the NBA draft lottery odds?
The NBA draft lottery implies you guess the order of the first fourteen picks for the annual NBA draft. Here you bet on players who will become a part of the rosters of different franchises. The lottery results are announced at ESPN.
How do NBA Live odds work?
The live odds work the same as pre-game ones. The only difference is that you see them after the game starts, and the line fluctuation is much faster than when you wager on pre-match markets. You can find money line, spread, totals, and props in the live betting line, and combine them all in multiple bets like parlays, teasers, if bets, and more — depending on what a bookmaker offers to bettors.
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